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I’m 31 weeks pregnant and have just been told that my job will no longer exist as the department is moving elsewhere in Europe. It’s a large company and I want to stay there as it’s convenient for childcare etc. So I’ve been advised to apply for other positions in the company. However, I don’t feel I will get a fair treatment in interviews as I am obviously pregnant and due to take time off for maternity leave. There are roles which would suit my skills (although I haven’t been put in them automatically as I’ve been put in a different re-structure pool). How do I make sure that I am not discriminated against during the application / interview process? Secondly, I was put into a marketing pool for the selection criteria, as I’ve worked in that function for the last year. However, 12 years of my experience is in a buying function, but I wasn’t put in this pool, despite there being suitable positions. Can I appeal about the pooling selection? Finally, I work part time currently, although I’m happy to work full time if necessary. When considering suitable jobs does my employer need to look at all options? I have advised them I’m happy to go back to full time, although my preference would be for part time.
I note that you believe you have been put in the incorrect pool of employees for selection criteria, as you have been put in the marketing pool, and you believe you should be in the buying pool. As you have been working in marketing for the last year, this is the correct pool for you to be in for purposes of applying the selection criteria. However, your 12 years’ experience in buying should be taken into account by the company in relation to considering you for any alternative roles. You should be given the chance to raise this during consultation if there is no suitable alternative role within marketing for you.
The period from the beginning of your pregnancy to the end of your maternity leave is a protected period, during which you are entitled to special consideration, if this is necessary, to make good any disadvantage you may otherwise experience. You are protected against being subjected to a detriment (at any time) for a reason connected to your pregnancy or statutory maternity leave. For example, if the company is using attendance or absence as part of the selection criteria, they should discount any absences you have had that were caused by, or related to, your pregnancy. If your last performance assessment was done during your pregnancy, and showed lower scores than usual for this reason, this should not be taken into consideration against the selection criteria.
If you were to be selected for redundancy because of your pregnancy, taking maternity leave, or some related reason, then you would have an automatic unfair dismissal claim. This would also constitute unlawful discrimination. If you were to be made redundant during your maternity leave, your employer must offer you any suitable alternative role, on terms and conditions which are not substantially less favourable then your previous post, and you would not need to apply for that role.
This is not to say that pregnant women, and women on maternity leave, cannot be made redundant. If there is a genuine redundancy situation, and where there is no alternative work available for those on maternity leave, then they can be made lawfully redundant, provided that pregnancy and maternity is not the reason for the redundancy.
If you require more tailored and detailed advice regarding your circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact me.